Lessons about online privacy we learned in the last 5 years

Lessons about online privacy we learned in the last 5 years

We don't want our personal information to be sold and misused by various online companies and hackers. But sometimes, it's easy for us to forget about things like online privacy when we get busy with our regular lives. 

This article is here to help you remember some of the important lessons that every internet user should learn about keeping their valuable information safe from online advertisers and police agencies. 

We're going to go through and refresh your mind on important things about online privacy that you need to remember.

Online privacy threats are not just limited to desktop and mobile platforms but IoT devices as well.

The first thing you should do before anything else is to get a good grasp of the two questions: what is online privacy, and why is it so important in the current time? With the proliferation of Internet-connected devices in our daily lives, hackers now have many more potential points of entry into your personal information than ever before. 

Therefore, knowing the basics before anything else is extremely crucial—so you have real privacy concerns in the back of your head before you make a significant move on the internet.

The Internet of Things is a collection of devices that are interconnected with each other and the internet at large. 

These range from baby monitors to smart thermostats, light bulbs to doorbells, and even refrigerators can be IoT-enabled these days. They're collecting data on you without your permission.

One of the most widely-held assumptions about social media is that it's a safer and better option than traditional modes of communication. But in recent years, we've seen massive data breaches on Facebook and Twitter, among other popular services. 

Addressing user safety concerns while promoting user engagement is an ongoing challenge for social networking sites, especially since some platforms have had longstanding issues with online harassment. 

So while we aren't saying you should get off social media entirely, we recommend treating everything you encounter on Facebook (or any other site) with a healthy dose of skepticism until proven otherwise.

Having location tracking enabled at all times is a bad idea.

There are times when having location tracking enabled at all times can be a good idea, like if you're going somewhere you've never been before or driving, but in general, it's something most of us want to do minimally. 

If some of these apps seem unfamiliar or unnecessary (like Yelp?), feel free to turn off their location services by hitting the arrow next to their name and choosing 'Never.' Other options include 'While Using,' which allows app access only when it's active on screen and doesn't track continuously in the background, and 'Always,' which gives an app full-time access until you manually change its status.

Beware of the hackers who are trying to take advantage of the security holes in the operating system.

It's been a hectic few years for operating system developers as hackers discover new and inventive ways to trick users into giving them access. Operating system updates are released every couple of weeks to close these security holes, so make sure you are using the latest version. If not, turn on automatic updates in the settings menu to make sure that your device is always up-to-date with the latest security patches.

One more thing: don't ignore those OS update notifications that pop up every few minutes when you're having dinner with your family or making an important presentation at work. Those patches can prevent hackers from taking advantage of newly discovered gaps in your security wall. And most important of all, it's probably a cliche to say it, but you need to make sure your computer has antivirus software installed.

If buying paid software sounds like a lot of work to you, there are many reliable free antivirus software available.

Even your internet router can expose you to a host of online privacy risks.

Researchers have found ways to take advantage of internet-connected devices, including routers. This is why you need to be concerned about your router's security. While a lot of these tips are very difficult for an average person to implement, these steps can go a long way toward your router's security:

  • Change the default password: Most routers come with default passwords that are easy for hackers to guess. Change it!
  • Update the firmware: Have you updated your router in a while? Just like antivirus software and other programs on your computer, routers also receive updates from their manufacturers. Such updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities in older versions. Make sure you have the latest version installed.
  • Use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure): Using HTTPS encrypts all data flowing between your PC/phone and websites/services on the internet. Enabling HTTPS on your router will help protect sensitive data passing through it from being intercepted by anyone using snooping tools like Wireshark or tcpdump. 

In order to enable HTTPS, however, you'll need the latest firmware update mentioned above (for most routers). It will also add some overhead, so it may slow down your network performance slightly."

Apps can also be used by hackers to gain access to your sensitive information.

Protect yourself against the dark web and other suspicious websites. You should also use a VPN to protect yourself when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. This will ensure that your private information isn't leaked and available to anyone who is half-interested in knowing what you're up to online. 

WATCH WHAT YOU SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

We are all guilty at one time or another of not thinking twice about what we choose to share on the internet. 

Before hitting that "Post" button, take a second to think about the message that the information could send out to people who may use it against you. 

Sometimes it's just a silly post by one of your friends that can give away too much information about your location. For example, did you know that tagged photos show when and where they were taken? This can not only help identify where someone lives or works but also whether they are home or out at certain times.

If this isn't enough to make you think twice… then maybe this will! Just last year, there was an unfortunate case where a robber targeted victims in real life after their friends tagged them at parties on Facebook – he knew exactly when houses would be empty so he could go in and steal from them without being seen!

We know what some of you might be thinking: "But if I don't post anything personal on my profile, then why should I worry about my privacy?" Well, have you ever been tagged in photos without wanting to be? While it may seem like harmless fun photos with friends… if someone else has access to them, then they have access to information about YOU as well! 

 

Conclusion

When we could freely share our personal information and posts on social media without worrying about its safety, today, the situation is slightly different. Cybercriminals are not the only threats out there. 

Non-existent state laws for online data protection, and a passionate labor force of hackers who use their skills for good or bad reasons, have put millions of people at risk of losing data. The constant barrage of privacy scandals has made it clear that we need an answer to our growing privacy concerns. 

Hence, this article serves as a gentle reminder of everything that we have learned about online privacy in the last few years.


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Techies Classic

The above article is written by team techies Classic. We do in-depth research to provide our readers with the value to choose things easier. To read more amazing tech content 



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